The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has expressed displeasure on the recent invasion of Daily Trust newspaper Abuja and Maiduguri offices and arrest of some of their journalists by military operatives.
A press statement issued by Daily Trust newspaper CEO/Editor-in-chief, Mannir Dan-Ali read in part, “For four hours on Sunday, January 6, armed soldiers who came in five vehicles occupied the head office of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily trust titles sending away journalists and other staff. Before the siege was called off at about 9:30pm, the soldiers ransacked the newsroom and carted away dozens of computers and effectively strangulated the production of the Monday edition of paper.
“Earlier in the day at about 4 pm, another detachment of soldiers and plain cloth security officials went to the Maiduguri regional office of the company and conducted a search at the end of which they took away the Regional Bureau Chief, Uthman Abubakar and a reporter, Ibrahim Sawab. Neither the company nor the families of the two reporters have heard from them since. A production staff who was taken away from the Abuja head office alongside our computers was released after a period of detention at the Mogadishu Barrack in Abuja.”
Reacting to this, the National Spokesperson of CUPP, Ikenga Ugochinyere has bemoaned this action by military operatives against the media. He noted that the press, which is an integral and indispensable part of the society, exists for the society and it derives its powers to function from the constitution.
According to him, “As stipulated in Chapter II section 22 of the 1999 constitution, The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people. This provision implies that the press shall be a watchdog over the excesses of government, and shall ensure that government delivers it promises to the people. The government on the one hand shall ensure that the press informs the people about its programmes and actions.”
“The free society which comprises of people of different ethnic, religious, socio-economic backgrounds are also entitled to free information, as such chapter II section 39 subsection (1) of the 1999 constitution states, Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
“Without prejudice to the generality of subsection I of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.”
He stated that the existence of these constitutions defines the society with many elements such as the media, police, government, armed forces, citizenry among others operate.
He lamented that the Buhari APC-led administration has said on several occasions that they want a free and fair elections in February but their actions are totally different from what they say.
“How can you say that you hope for credible polls in 2019 when the media which is the integral part of ensuring credibility are being oppressed. Nigeria is going through a lot right now, poor economy, poverty and especially insecurity issues bedevilling the northern part of the country. The President should be more interested in solving these insecurity issues rather than oppressing the press who are just doing their job as written in the constitution.”
“The North-Central, North-East and North-West zones were the apex of killings in 2018, with states like Borno, Benue, Plateau, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and Taraba being the centre of these killings. 2018 has been an omen of death and tears for our people. No states were spared in the terrible murders. Thousands of Nigerians across the country were slaughtered through the Boko Haram attacks, kidnappings, armed robbery, herdsmen and farmers clashes and so on.”
The coalition hereby demand for the immediate release of the journalists of Daily Trust newspapers and full compensation for any damage that occurred in the process of the siege.
“The Presidency and its APC cohorts should save themselves the little dignity they have left, and do something right for once. Focus on your rage against Boko Haram and let the press do their works,” Ugochinyere said